Y’all have some amazing points and I agree with so many of them! It seems we all want more healthy family relationships XD
Here are some of my favorites:
-Fantasy set in cultures that are not medieval Europe. Like, we have all of history! We have all these times, all these countries, all these amazing things that happened! Why do we always end up reading about the crusades from the English viewpoint?
-Like Sparrowhawke said, positive female relationships. Not only friendships (Though those are fabulous and super important) but also stuff like Mother-daughter relationships and Grandmother-Granddaughter relationships. Honestly, the cliche that girls are always jealous and dramatic with each other and only behave like reasonable humans when surrounded by guys is one of my greatest pet peeves and I hate it.
-Friendships with big age gaps. With this, I mean stuff like a grandmotherly old lady practically adopting the teenage girl next door. This could kinda fall into the category of mentor-mentee relationships, but the friendship doesn’t need to be central to the plot.
-Male-female friendships that don’t turn into relationships and don’t even have an inkling of romance. (Honestly, I’m thinking about Cinder and Thorne. That was amazing, and I loved how Melissa Meyer didn’t turn it into a love triangle instead.)
-Female characters who care about their appearance and enjoy traditionally feminine things but aren’t shamed for them or regarded as ‘shallow’.
-Female characters who are less feminine but still appreciate feminine activities and stuff. If I see one more medieval warrior-lady scoffing at embroidery, sewing, and cooking… Like, those activities are what keep the castle and the kingdom running!
-Relationships that don’t start with instant romantic attraction. I love friendships that develop the entire book/series and it slowly turns into a romance. (IF the characters work together.)
-Books without romantic subplots. I like a romantic subplot when it’s well done, but don’t shove it in there just because you feel like you have to. (Talking to past-me there.)
-Disabled and neurodivergent characters. Like, even just as background characters, I love seeing them.
-Physical diversity. Not only things like skin color, but body shape, height, weight, imperfections, all of that stuff. Not all characters need to be conventionally attractive.
-Characters with various backgrounds. I’d love to see characters who happen to be immigrants, or whose parents were immigrants. That’d be so cool!
-Characters who were friends before the story started. Although the ‘meeting new friends and forming a team’ trope is cool and I like it, it’d be cool to see an already established friend group go on adventures together. (All the while recalling memories like “Don’t do that! Remember last time?”)
Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?